Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trekking Survival Tips

Trekking is an amazing experience that can change your life, taking you through some of the world’s most amazing landscapes and treacherous terrains. As you venture up steep mountains toward the clouds, miles from the rest of civilisation, you will test your survival skills to the very limit.

Here are some tips to make sure you stay safe during your adventure:

      Adjust to the altitude!

  • Altitude sickness will occur if you climb too quickly, too soon, with symptoms including headache, nausea, dizziness and exhaustion.
  • Make sure you give yourself a few days to adjust to the atmosphere by spending a few days in the locality of the trek.
  • By ascending slowly you can give your body an extra fighting chance - once you are above 10,000 feet, avoid increasing your sleeping altitude by more than 300-500 meters a night.
  • Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol.
  • Training is important too, spend time building your leg muscles prior to your trip; hill walking and gym time will improve your body’s ability to carry oxygen.   
     Wrap up warm!

  • Your head, hands and feet will lose heat the quickest; make sure you wear a woolly hat, warm gloves and thick thermal socks, while protecting naked areas of your body, like the neck, with a fleecy scarf.
  • Make sure you have plenty of layers (synthetic materials are better than cotton).   

           Wear decent boots!

  • Trekking is grueling on your feet; make sure you wear a good set of hiking boots which are worn in to avoid blisters.
  • Insoles will provide extra comfort while helping to maintain body heat.
  • For rocky or icy terrain, grips are a really good idea too.   

           Food and water!

  • Rehydrating yourself is key, so make sure you always have a steady supply of water and take water purification tablets; a urine test will tell you when you need to top up, the darker the urine, the less hydrated you are.
  • Trekking food needs to be high in energy and light to carry; remember, survival is your number one priority here, not culinary enjoyment.
  • Make sure you eat plenty of carbohydrates for energy – pasta, rice and bread.
  • Protein is also important to maintain and develop strength - eggs, tofu, lentils and nuts.
  • Fruit is required to fight off infections and colds but will go off quickly, so take multivitamin and iron tablets also.
  • Sugary foods will give you a quick boost of energy while you walk, so take a few packets of sweets.
  • Specialized food from hiking stores is usually dried or freeze-dried to reduce its weight and surface area, making it easy to pack and carry; this guide will show you how to dry your own.   


  • A good closed tent and sleeping bag are a must, minimizing heat loss at night.
  • Light and functional cooking equipment is also important, but don’t be afraid to cook on an open fire, it really adds to the experience and will keep you warm.
  • A head torch will allow you to navigate in the dark and cook food, keeping your hands free.
  • A light, durable backpack is a must, allowing you access to your most treasured items and distributing weight on your back.
  • Trekking polls are important for hiking steep or rocky terrain, providing extra balance and support.
  • A guide book, compass and first aid kit are imperative and could be the difference between life and death.

Trekking will open your eyes to the natural world, just make sure you are fully prepared and go with someone experienced; you want your trip to be memorable for all the right reasons!

This post was written by Helene Cooper of adventure travel company, Imaginative Traveller. Helene is an avid trekker and regularly writes about Peru’s Inca Trail.

Thanks Helene for an informative guest post.

Staying above the water line!



Ken said...

...also good advice for those of us not at altitude...foothills here of the ozarks are pretty damn tuff too...several of these trails and rivers kick my ass...but i love those rainbows, well worth it...

Anonymous said...

I'm a loooong way from any mountains, but its always good to have some knowledge of what you will expect if/when you get there. Much obliged for the article!

The Survival Knife Guy said...

A good topographic map and a good first aid kit are essential. On the trail, pay attention. There might be rocks, rivers, landslides and other impediments along the way. One misjudged step can have long lasting repercussions. So walk slowly and enjoy the views.

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